For the third year in a row, Olympia has received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for protecting the civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The 2016 Municipal Equality Index rated 506 U.S. cities based on their nondiscrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and hate crimes reporting, and municipal leadership on equality-related issues.
Olympia is among 60 cities to receive a score of 100, joining Seattle and Bellevue as the only Washington cities to earn a perfect score. Other Washington cities on the 2016 index include Tacoma and Vashon, which scored 88 points; Port Townsend at 85; Spokane at 76; Kent with 64 points; Bellingham and Vancouver with 60 points; and Pullman at 59.
The average score was 55 points, according to the index.
Although Olympia received the maximum of 100 points, assistant city manager Jay Burney said he wants the city to achieve all “bonus points” in future indexes.
Cities earn bonus points by having elected leaders who are openly LGBT, for example, or by being “pro-equality despite restrictive state law.” Other bonus points are associated with providing city services specifically for LGBT youths, homeless and senior citizens.
Starting next month in Olympia, every restroom in all city-owned buildings will become gender-neutral, Burney said.
“We’re always looking at areas where we can do more,” Burney told the Olympia City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.
An effort to raise Olympia’s index score was prompted by the 2013 ratings, in which the city received 67 out of 100 points. Olympia subsequently earned 100 points in 2014 and 2015.
In that time, LGBT liaisons have been appointed among city staff and the Olympia Police Department. The police department launched a Safe Olympia campaign to provide safe places for victims of hate crimes.
The city revised its municipal code to reflect the legality of same-sex marriage and to require contractors with projects totaling $50,000 or more to sign a declaration that they have nondiscrimination policies.